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Hold onto your guns

December 1, 2008
Bill Harding

The article in last Sunday's Morning Journal about gun buy backs got me thinking. Would I sell any of my firearms for $100 worth of groceries?

To answer the question I decided to put some value on my own personal firearms, keeping in mind that bought most of them at bargain prices. These are not particularly special firearms.

I do have an old single barrel 12 gauge that was given to me by my grandfather. It might be priced somewhere in the $50 to $100 range, but then there is the sentimental value. I would not trade it for what little food $100 will buy in today's market.

There are a couple of air rifles, but have you priced them lately? Besides, robbers seldom hold up a liquor store with an air rifle. There is too much of a chance that the clerk might have a .45 under the counter. An air rifle against a .45 is poor odds. I guess taking an air rifle off the street is not a big deal.

Then there is the old .38 revolver my dad had under the counter when he ran a gas station back in the early 40s. I tried to shoot it once and it shaved so much lead when the cylinder did not line up that there was as much danger behind the gun as in front of it. Its best use for protection would be to throw it at an attacker. I might consider letting this go for a few nice steaks, but the buy back money would be misspent. This is a gun that might be good to have in a criminal's hands as it could do enough damage to the bad guy that it would take him off the street permanently.

The lesson I learned by this experiment is that any gun that can be safely shot is easily worth at least $100. In fact this is a very low price for most firearms. If that same firearm is used to protect my family or myself it is worth more than the latest government bailout plan.

Even though I realize that some of these so-called buy back guns are turned in by widows who just want the evil thing out of the house, I often wonder how many have been stolen. As president of a video production company I was once approached by an organization to produce a public service TV commercial for a buy back. My predecessor had produced one free of charge as we often produced public service announcements at no cost.

I offered to produce the commercial only if every serial number was checked against a stolen property list. If the firearm proved to be stolen if had to be returned to its rightful owner. I never heard anymore about the commercial and I do not know if another company produced the spot.

Are all of these buy back guns destroyed? A retired Florida police officer assured me that his department had a strict policy of destroying them, but it is hard to believe that there is never an exception in some departments. Many of these guns are probably junk, but every once in a while a beauty must be turned in. What a temptation that must be.

Forget the fancy new guns, suppose some nice little granny drops off an actual Colt Patterson single action in .44-40. That baby would pay for a lot of groceries and it would take a sadist to put it to the torch. At the very least it should be donated to a museum.

While buying back guns might seem to be a good thing, we need to look beneath the surface. How many of the guns that are brought in really pose a danger to the public? Somehow I find it hard to imagine a drug dealer trading in his Glock for a bag of chips and a six pack. My uneducated guess is that the majority of these guns have been collecting dust in a closet or drawer for more than one generation.

Guns are no more evil than Lizzie Borden's famous axe. They are a tool, which if used properly, can protect your home and put food on the table.

It is too bad that after buying guns for groceries, they were not then sold to collectors and the profit given to the Salvation Army or other charity organization. There are always two sides to every story.



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